Complex ganglioside expression and tetanus toxin binding by PC12 pheochromocytoma cells

K. M. Walton, K. Sandberg, T. B. Rogers, R. L. Schnaar

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Ganglioside expression and tetanus toxin binding were studied in the rat pheochromocytoma cell line PC12. Seven ganglioside species were readily detected in extracts of PC12 cells; two were identified as tri- and tetrasialogangliosides, which are common brain constituents but unusual components on neuronal cell lines. Carbohydrate composition, acid and enzyme hydrolyses, and mass spectral analysis revealed that the major species is GT(1b), a predominant mammalian brain ganglioside previously reported to support high affinity tetanus toxin binding (Rogers, T.B., and Snyder, S.H. (1981) J. Biol. Chem. 256, 2402-2407). Direct binding of 125I-tetanus toxin to PC12 gangliosides on TLC plates revealed selective binding to the tri- an tetrasialogangliosides. Radioiodinated toxin also bound with high affinity to intact PC12 cells or their isolated membranes. The binding affinity (K(d) = 1.25 nM), density of receptors (B(max) = 238 pmol/mg of membrane protein), and dependence on pH, ionic strength, and temperature were similar to those previously reported for toxin binding to rat brain synaptic membranes. Differentiation of PC12 cells caused an increase in expression of the tri- and tetrasialogangliosides and a closely matched increase in tetanus toxin binding to cell membranes. These data provide evidence that complex gangliosides may act as tetanus toxin receptors, and demonstrate the utility of the PC12 cell line for studies of tetanus toxicity and complex ganglioside expression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2055-2063
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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